Poetry Boxes in Lake Oswego Celebrate Poetry Every Day

This is one of many poetry boxes you’ll find inspiring Lake Oswegans as they walk around town. David Cooke is responsible for many of them, including this one at the entrance to the Lake Oswego Library.

April is National Poetry Month and in Lake Oswego, that is something to celebrate.


Well, for one thing, Oregon Poet Laureate William Stafford called Lake Oswego home.

Add to that the fact that the First Addition-Forest Hills Neighborhood Association used Neighborhood Enhancement Program grant funds to create the Stafford Grove on Sunningdale Road, a small park near Stafford’s former home.

In addition, the Old Town Neighborhood Association sponsored a poetry contest a few years back and selected three winning poems to memorialize in their sidewalk poetry project.

And, for those of you who walk the neighborhoods of Lake Oswego, you’ve probably encountered a poetry box or two where residents encourage us to take a moment to think about the world and our place in it in a different way.

Poet, former school teacher, carpenter, landscaper and former Lake Oswego resident David Cooke is responsible for many of the poetry boxes found in neighborhoods near and far.

In business since the early 2000s, he has seen an uptick in orders with Covid. “Everyone was staying home and still wanting to build community,” he explains, “and poetry boxes are a great way to do that.”

Most of us have probably walked by one of Cooke’s creations when visiting the Lake Oswego Library. Recently refinished, it stands right at the entrance and has housed one of Cooke’s own poems, finished off with his message to us all, “Take a poem. Leave a Poem. Take a Moment. Leave Inspired.” Another sits on Lake Grove and another on Firwood Lane. Cooke believes four of his boxes dot our city’s streets; however, you can also find some DIY varieties around town as well.

Cooke has several styles to choose from, ranging from $225 to $399, all built to be weather-resistant and featuring beautiful, sturdy woods like Mahogany, Red Cedar and Black Walnut. He’ll also work with clients to create a custom design, incorporating additional elements to reflect their style. You can order them here.

When I asked Cooke what motivates a homeowner to install a poetry box, he explained that they are usually people who read poetry or people who write poetry and want to share with their neighbors. I think I fall into a third category of person who doesn’t write it, and doesn’t usually read it UNLESS I encounter it on one of my walks. So, as I explained in one of my most popular blog posts, “10 Things I Learned About Lake Oswego On My Covid-19 Walks,” it seems Lake Oswego neighbors like to find new ways to keep us walkers entertained and I think poetry boxes are a great way to do just that! As Cooke sees it, it’s a two-for-one deal. Walkers can get their exercise to stretch their legs while also getting their poetry to stretch their minds.

If you are trying to decide, “To sell or not to sell: that is the question,” let’s talk.  While I can’t recite poetry, I can recite the latest housing market updates for Lake Oswego and would be happy to share them with you if you are thinking of buying or selling your home. Give me a call at 503.939.9801, email me at costellok@hasson.com and/or check out my website.

About lovelakeoswego

I feel pretty lucky—I live where I work and I love where I live. As a Realtor in Lake Oswego, I get to share that enthusiasm with clients every day. Through this blog, with the help of my freelance writer wife, Genita, I’d like to share that enthusiasm with you. The quality of life you’ll find in Lake Oswego belies its size—there is so much to experience here from a fireworks show over the lake on the 4th of July to the Festival of the Arts--one of the premier arts events in the region. So please check in each week for another reason why I love Lake Oswego and who knows—maybe you’ll fall in love too! If you’re interested in experiencing Lake Oswego personally, please feel free to contact me either on my cell at (503) 939-9801, via email at kevin.costello@cascadehassonsir.com or check my website by clicking the link in the "Contact me" section in the right-hand column. I would love to show you around.
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